First, congratulations! You made it through all those new buzzwords like MVP, MLP, No-Code, Low-Code, low-code platform, and many more. Hopefully, you weren't distracted too much by tons of information bombarded to you. Until now, you made at least two very good decisions.
If you have made those two decisions, you are doing better than many others. Be proud of yourself.
Now, you have the next mountain to climb.
Low-Code is currently hyped. It feels like every two seconds, a new platform is popping out and grabbing your attention. The marketing slogans are kind of all the same: More features, easier development, and fewer costs. I predict there will be many more low-code platforms coming in the next months. The low-code market is incredibly growing and we are still at the beginning.
You need to navigate your way through the jungle of low-code and no-code tools. Doing this by yourself can be frustrating and time-consuming.
I'm here to help you. Let's go.
Due to the fact that the terms low-code or no-code are super hyped, everyone wants to have a piece of the cake. Therefore, tools, which we haven't called no-code before 2021 are all of a sudden low-code tools. I would rather call them Software as a Service platform. They do offer services like email marketing, project management, website translations, and others. While they are super helpful and some have awesome experiences, I never again want to miss them. They won't help you develop your MVP. They will help you organize your customers and promotions, but they don't let you develop custom software for your MVP.
I made up my own categorization to guide me through the jungle of low-code platforms.
Some tools in this category can or even need to be combined. Depending on your use case, it is completely sufficient to have one system for web applications or app development. While others require you to have a combination of tools that give you landing pages, automation systems that connect everything, and a database where everything can be stored.
While this can have a lot of advantages, there is no free lunch (thanks to Warren Buffet at this point).
Every low-code architecture comes at its cost.
You need to be aware of this categorization in order to differentiate the different systems. Your first task is to understand what you actually want to develop. If you want to develop a software application (no matter of web or app) I highly recommend having a look at the 3-tier software architecture which supports your overall software development understanding.
As every time in business. The better you have your requirements right, the better will your decision be which tool or platform to choose from. The following questions will help you to define the requirements for your low-code MVP:
I do assume that most of my readers will develop customer-facing applications. In other words, you don't develop an application for your internal employees, but rather for your clients or even start a completely new business for future customers.
This question can be trickier than you might think. Most of my clients tell me that they need an app for no reason. Maybe it sounds cooler to develop an app, I don't know. Even though more and more people use their phones only to access information and services. You don't need to have an app. They are other solutions (responsive websites, PWA). Especially in the B2B area, some applications will most likely be accessed through laptops. Developing and publishing apps has some disadvantages. Think about it, whether you really require it and whether it makes sense to have a web application and native app with different features.
This requirement is especially important when you are developing applications that handle very sensitive and comprehensive data about patient illness. But there are many other fields like government services, military services, pharmaceutical topics. Most of them require specific certifications, such as HIPAA. Many low-code platforms can't provide specific certifications like HIPAA. Unfortunately, you can't use them in this case.
Other than that, you might need to consider that the data can't be hosted outside your own country. This will hit most likely if you live outside the US. Most of the low-code tools use cloud services and store their data on US servers. That is sometimes an issue for European, Australian or Canadian companies. Depending on the situation it is not prescribed by law but rather a company decision or simply ignorance.
Whatever the reason is, there are situations how to overcome that hurdle. Depending on the use-case and platform, you can easily use your own database systems or even use low-code database systems that are hosted in Germany.
We did this ourselves, please ask us if you need support.
You most likely will answer this question with yes if you are planning to save a lot of audio files, video files, or images with your application (and don't use streaming sites). The pricing structure of the most low-code platforms doesn't let you save a huge amount of data. Data storage is expensive, and the low-code platforms let you pay for that.
They are again ways to overcome that. You can set up your own data storage system (e.g. AWS S3) to store your data.
We did this ourselves, please ask us if you need support.
Are you running complex algorithms or need to save sensitive calculations outside low-code platforms?
If your software product requires you to run complex and CPU-intensive calculations, you will reach the boundaries of low-code platforms rather quickly. Again, this is not the end of your low-code love story. With an open system, API knowledge, and custom code you can also overcome this issue. You can outsource your complex calculations to other cloud services and use low-code platforms for other functionalities.
We did a very cool client project where we used exactly this approach. Learn more about that.
You can save a lot of money if you use low-code instead of programming. The rough estimation is that low-code is approximately 7 times cheaper than traditional programming. This being said, however, please do not expect that someone is developing an app for a couple of bucks for you. If I see such inquiries, I will delete them right away. Developing a software product or an MVP involves more than just the development work.
You still want to keep an eye on the overall costs of your low-code platform. With more editors and more data storage, most likely you will need higher plans, which results in higher costs.
Number of users or editors
There are low-code platforms that do charge you by the users of the application. By this I don't mean the developer, I mean the actual user. This makes a lot of sense when your application is for an internal target group (inside your company).
A lot of tools together can be more expensive than one tool
Especially if you build your low-code tool with many other tools included. If you are scaling, you will likely pay a lot more for the sum of all tools instead of one more expensive tool. Most of them have a free plan, but once you need more API calls, storage, editors, or others you are required to use the paid plan.
I can not highlight this requirement enough. Especially if you have a more complex software product in mind where you do need data from outside your application, this is highly important. Please choose an application where you can easily add external APIs or databases. The same goes that you not only want to consume data outside your application, you also want to make your functionalities available to other systems. I wrote an article about this, please check it out.
Maybe you don't understand this at the beginning of your low-code career. Trust me, you will regret not having a low-code platform that allows easy integrations in both ways.
If you are lost and need support, please reach out to us. We can not only develop with low-code, we can also code.
Even though marketing slides will tell you differently. Low-code can be complicated and you will have a steep learning curve. This can be exciting and frustrating all at the same time. Fortunately, if there is an active community and tutorials which will help you to overcome your hurdles. This is especially a problem for low-code platforms which just launched. Building an active community can take a lot of time and patience. People must be so committed that they are spending time for free to help newbies. 90% of the time when I had an issue, I found a YouTube tutorial or blog post helping me out. If nothing was available, I solved it anyway and made a YouTube video or blog post about it.
Curious about our YouTube Channel? Check our tutorials about Bubble, SaaS development and AWS services.
I hope this article gave you a better guide through the low-code jungle for your low-code MVP development. If you have a concrete project in mind, please contact us for support. We do develop low-code applications each and every day.
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